12 October 2023

Riverina Combined Schools Band wins gold rating at major band festival in Sydney

| Oliver Jacques
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Two Griffith kids playing saxophone

Eddie Rauluni and Xavier Clark get tips from Police Band’s Nathan Henshaw. Photo: Supplied.

The Riverina Combined Schools Band and Griffith East Public School Band have won gold and silver ratings respectively at a major band festival in Sydney.

The Australian School Band and Orchestra Festival brings together school aged concert, brass and big bands, string ensembles and orchestras for an annual event that is adjudicated by professional music educators.

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The Griffith East Public School Band, led by musical director and teacher Rhys Thomas, impressed the judges when they performed at Leighton Hall at the University of NSW in Kensington.

“The kids were really nervous, some of them hadn’t played in a venue that big outside of Griffith,” Mr Thomas said. “But they did really well. The longer they stayed on stage, the better they got.

“They all worked really hard over a long period of time to prepare for it all, and they were happy to be rewarded for it.”

A number of the Griffith East crew then joined students from high schools to perform in the Riverina Combined Schools Band at the Raymond Hanson Secondary School Concert Band Event.

The older band was given a gold rating for their performance. The event they played in was named after Raymond Hanson, a self-taught Sydney-based composer who served in the army during World War II and was later known for fighting against the Americanisation of Australia.

An orchestra band performance

The students got to perform at the impressive Clancy Auditorium at UNSW. Photo: Supplied.

The Australian School Band and Orchestra Festival was a non-competitive event. Rather than being ranked, ensembles received either a gold, silver, or bronze rating which reflected their level of achievement for the particular event level in which they performed. Besides the rating, each ensemble was provided with an audio commentary of their performance by the adjudicator.

“The kids got a lot of professional assistance on the day. It’s a valuable event for them for their future in music. While we were there, we did a couple of workshops [and] the students got some tips from the Police Band,” Mr Thomas said.

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Students from Griffith’s Murrumbidgee Regional High School, Marian Catholic College, West Wyalong Public School and Wagga’s Mater Dei Catholic College were represented in the high school band.

The full list of participants from the Riverina was as follows: Aaron Taprell, Angus Pasin, Anuki Athuraliya, Candice Summerhayes, Cassidy Barlow, Denny Lim, Eddie Rauluni, Elliott Lemon, Jaiden McFadzean, Jhazz Parico, Lachlan Rebetzke, Levi Malone, Matthew Crosato, Mayah Bunn, Melandie van der Merwe, Miles Condon, Nathaniel Lamont, Nirvair Singh, Owen Condon, Quinn Condon, Serena Rushby, Sophia Parkin, Tatum Parsons, Vishav Chauhan, Wilson Malone, Xavier Clark, Zac Turner, Cooper Mesa, Flynn Bunn, Czaree Rosales, Stephanie Parker, Elsie Bell, Lucas Charpentier, Thomas Jordan-Downes and Anthony Whelan.

Students practice with police band

Practice makes perfect. Photo: Supplied.

“Five of the students (Cassidy, Jhazz, Nathaniel, Cooper and Flynn) were also selected in the State Junior Wind Band, which involved two sold-out performances at the Sydney Opera House following our trip,” Mr Thomas said.

The kids were supported by the band co-ordinators Toni Howard, Vince Conlan, Kim Charpentier, Hannah Lonergan and Leo Forner, along with Mr Thomas.

Mr Thomas also thanked the sponsors: Yenda Producers, Yenda Rotary, Western Riverina Arts, Calabria Wines, Griffith Musicians Club, Stahmann Webster, MIA Coaches, NSW Police Band and Garry Clark & The Hills Music Academy.

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